Cost of College Degree in U.S. Soars 12 Fold: Chart of the Day

The cost of obtaining a university education in the U.S. has soared 12 fold over the past three decades, a sign the educational system is in need of reform, according to lawmakers in both parties.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows college tuition and fees have surged 1,120 percent since records began in 1978, four times faster than the increase in the consumer price index. Medical expenses have climbed 601 percent, while the price of food has increased 244 percent over the same period.

“Soaring tuition and shrinking incomes are making college less and less affordable,” Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in an e-mailed statement. “For millions of young people, rising college costs are putting the American dream on hold, or out of reach.”

Pell grants, which are federal government funds given to students showing financial need, and loan programs are insufficient to address systemic problems in paying for higher education, Harkin and top committee Republican Mike Enzi of Wyoming said at a July 19 Congressional hearing on how to curb the costs.